The History of the Holburne Collection
Sir William Holburne and his Collection: Recognition as a Collector
By the 1860s Sir William Holburne's collection was largly complete. In 1867 his status as a significant collector was recognised in artistic circles by his election to the Burlington Fine Arts Club, which then numbered among its members Whistler, Rossetti, Frederick Lord Leighton, Ruskin and Thomas Gambier Parry (AR72). Sir William's reputation as a collector became established in an even more public way when he agreed to lend substantial numbers of objects to the major exhibitions of historic art at South Kensington Museum in 1862 (L103, S3) and 1865 (L110, M43) and and in Leeds in 1868 (L626, S8). His name entered the catalogues alongside those of some of the most outstanding collectors of the period including members of the royal family, the aristocracy and major political figures. A further catalogue in the Museum library shows that Holburne lent objects to the 'Histoire du Travail' section of the 1867 Exposition Universelle in Paris. Among those involved in curating and cataloguing the exhibitions was William Chaffers, scholar, antiquarian, museum consultant and dealer, who published his pioneering works on marks on silver, gold, pottery and porcelain in the 1860s. He advised Holburne on acquisitions and loans to the exhibitions, and together they worked on a catalogue of Holburne's collection of silver in 1867. A second catalogue of Holburne’s paintings, engravings and library was also prepared for publication in that year, but there is no evidence that the public were admitted into Sir William's home in Cavendish Crescent before his death in 1874.